Politico’s Dylan Byers heard the tweets of those of us who pointedly wondered aloud why the media fawned over Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis for filibustering an abortion clinic regulation bill, but are criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz for basically filibustering Obamacare funding.
— Bryan with a Y (@texasbryanp) September 25, 2013
When a Democrat like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against abortion restrictions, she is elevated to hero status, her tennis shoes become totems. When Cruz grandstands against Obamacare, he is a laughingstock in the eyes of many journalists on Twitter, an “embarrassment” in the eyes of The New York Times editorial board.
“Gee I wonder why NYT and WaPo and everyone else gave ecstatic coverage to Wendy Davis but not to Ted Cruz. I just can’t make sense of it!” John Podhoretz, the conservative columnist, tweeted on Wednesday morning.
Yes, the difference between filibustering and grandstanding plays a part. Equally important is the fact that Cruz’s theatrics are frustrating members of his own party. But, part of the disparity in coverage is due to the fact that the mainstream media, generally speaking, don’t admire Cruz the way they admired Davis — or rather, they admire him only insofar as he makes for tragicomic theater, whereas they admired her on the merits.
In other words, the mainstream media are all in for Democrats defending unregulated abortion, but not on board with delaying a law that was predicted by conservatives to be a job destroyer, and is turning out in reality to be a job destroyer. And I’ll throw a flag on Byers’ reading of the political parties’ roles in the Davis filibuster. That abortion clinic bill that she tried to block had bipartisan support in Texas. Davis acted over on the Democrats’ leftwing fringe, where she lives as one of the state’s most leftwing legislators. I’ll throw a flag on the “grandstanding” quip as well. Davis never had the votes to prevail. She knew that from the beginning. Her filibuster descended into total chaos. All she accomplished was embarrassing the state, while wasting taxpayer money on another special legislative session — and turning herself into a media star. That’s grandstanding by any reasonable definition of the term.
Setting that aside, Byers goes on to destroy his own media colleagues for lionizing Davis:
Cruz is portrayed in the media as “aimless and self-destructive” (NYT ed board), elitist (GQ) and likely guided more by presidential aspirations than principles (CNN). Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, had no qualms about coming right out and calling Cruz, his former Princeton colleague, an “arrogant jerk” — and worse.
After Davis’s filibuster in June, she got a glowing Vogue profile and was interviewed by nearly every major network and show that deemed her the new superstar from the Lone Star.
In an interview shortly after her filibuster in June, CBS News’s Charlie Rose highlighted Davis’s history.
“You’ve met tough things before in your life as single mother, one who went form community college, to TCU to Harvard Law School and back to practice law, so this seems to be another challenge for you,” Rose said.
Davis was the “Sunday Spotlight” for ABC’s This Week after the filibuster and was interviewed by Jeff Zeleny in the dinner theater where Davis once watiressed. Even conservative columnist Peggy Noonan conceded during the panel that part of her thinks Davis is “so spirited, she has such energy and she seems to have such commitment.”
The media bias in Davis’ favor continues, with the allegedly non-partisan Texas Tribune joining Team Davis by publishing silly fanboy fan fiction promoting her.
And Davis’ love affair with the media inside and outside Texas has only just begun.